Rule of Three


The Babadook

directed by Jennifer Kent
Feature film

View a still from the film

Asked to choose some bedtime reading, Amelia’s son picks an unfamiliar storybook from the shelf. Settling down, they turn the blood-red cover and begin to intone its contents. Macabre illustrations pop up from the page, while chilling rhymes describe a beast called the Babadook. Disturbed and distraught, Amelia destroys and disposes of the book, only for it to find its way back to her doorstep. The pages have been patched together and warnings added: ‘I’ll wager with you / I’ll make you a bet / The more you deny / The stronger I get.’ The book’s dark prophesies drag Amelia’s own demons to the surface, leaving her fearful that they will come to possess her once more.

Words by John Wadsworth

Someone Great

by LCD Soundsystem

View the album cover

An early-morning telephone call confirms the worst. Though not entirely unexpected, the news still stuns: ‘Nothing can prepare you for it / The voice on the other end.’ The world keeps turning, the sun refuses to stop shining, and the narrator’s coffee ‘isn’t even bitter’. His vocal line is doubled by the warm ring of a glockenspiel, and is underpinned by the flutter and thump of a programmed drumbeat. Synthesisers hum, swoosh, and pulsate. But beneath the major-key melodies, melancholy dominates. The bassline emphasises the musical interval of a falling fourth, dropping as if a respectful bowing of the head. The lyrics speak of loss, culminating with an expression of hope that remains markedly mute: ‘We’re safe / For the moment.’

Words by John Wadsworth

That Dragon, Cancer

developed by Numinous Games
Video game

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That Dragon, Cancer documents and reimagines selected scenes from the short life of Joel Green, in the form of fourteen short vignettes designed and written by his mother and father. Some are joyous, others painful. All are moving. We are invited to interact with Joel; placed in the shoes of his parents, we share moments of love, joy, horror, and helplessness. The backdrops consist of sharp shapes, the simple geometry ensuring that our attention focuses on the action. At one stage, we see a park, lush with greens, oranges, and browns. At another, daylight converts the cold, clinical walls of a hospital into a glowing go-karting track. Words appear onscreen throughout, guiding us through our emotive journey.

Words by John Wadsworth

Today's connection

Grief is a central theme in all three artworks (although, in the case of ‘Someone Great’, this interpretation has not been confirmed by the artist).

More to discover

The Babadook: Watch the trailer here, and see the scene discussed here, Ryan Hollinger has analysed the film in a video essay here. Ryan Lamble has interviewed Jennifer Kent (the film’s director) for Den of Geek, as have David Ehrlich for The Dissolve, Lesley Coffin for The Mary Sue, and Hugh Ryan for Vice.

Someone Great: Listen to the song here. Kristen Hellwig has written about the song’s theme of loss in a blog post on Medium. Sean O’Neal has interviewed LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy for The A.V. Club, as have Matthew Bennett for Clash Music, Joe Colly for Pitchfork, and Dorian Lynskey for The Quietus.

That Dragon, Cancer: View the trailer here, watch a full playthrough here, and visit the game’s website here. Keith Stuart has written about the game for The Guardian, as has Jason Tanz for Wired.

Question of the day

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